I have noticed and you could have as well, that mental health is increasingly becoming a buzzphrase. Discussions and debates on social media about mental health are becoming popular. I think that is good and necessary because there are lots of misconceptions about mental health. Mental health problems could be pandemic in nature and we do not even recognize that. Over 1 billion of the global population suffers from mental health challenges. The biggest cause of death amongst people aged 15 to 29 years is suicide. These are just a couple of examples that indicate that mental health is paramount. Let us look at how you can promote mental health at your startup or business.

Allow Employees A Degree Of Autonomy

Always breathing down on your employees is not healthy for them. It puts them under duress and will most likely weigh down on their mental health. Trust them enough to let them enjoy some degree of autonomy in their work. Autonomy speaks about the freedom to function or act independently. There is what is called the Ryff Scale of Psychological Wellbeing which lays out 6 key areas of mental health. It is even recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). It mentions autonomy as one of the key areas. When an employee is allowed some autonomy it is good for their mental health. Micromanaging employees will negatively affect their mental health. I am blessed to have always worked in setups where I am allowed substantial autonomy. I can attest, by personal experience, to how autonomy promotes mental health.

Invest Time And Resources Into Employee Development And Teambuilding

Going back to the Ryff Scale of Psychological Wellbeing, there are two areas I want to reference. These are personal growth and positive relations with others. It is also important to appreciate that one of the key elements of mental health is intellectual health. So, personal growth comes in many ways and at the workplace, it can be through employee development. As an employer, you must invest in employee development. I once mentioned this when I did an article highlighting the importance of employee training and development. It can be through seminars, workshops, retreats, boot camps, and so on.

This all feeds into the overall mental health of your employees. You will even get the bonus of increased productivity and little to no employee turnover as well. Then we have positive relations with others. If someone has positive relations with others it boosts their mental health. How can you foster that at your business or startup? One sure way is through facilitating team-building exercises. This creates rapport and positive relations amongst employees. Teambuilding can start as simple as having mini sessions daily before and after work. Get creative with this but I assure you the results will be worth the effort.

Coming Up With And Enforcing A Mental Health Policy

A disturbingly low number of startups or businesses ever come up with mental health policies. After all, most of them do not even have concrete company policies as it is. The thing is, it is not easy to manage and handle something when there is no framework for it. It is high time employers start looking into drafting mental health policies for their enterprises. This must not be a top-down exercise; it must be collective and collaborative. Everyone in the startup or business must be involved. This can even be an eye-opener where certain insights become apparent. Mental health problem identification, coping, support, and other mechanisms must be packaged into a company mental health policy. When all is said and done everything about mental health must be governed by it.

Regularly Check Up On Your Employees

If you have a relatively small team you can do this as an employer. If it is too big you can consider delegating that to someone or department heads, for instance. Even better you can rope an independent external person e.g. a health care professional. This can be a counsellor, psychiatrist, social worker, psychologist, and the like. The thrust of this will be to assess the current mental health state of your employees. At the very least be genuinely concerned to always find out how things are with your employees.

There could be toxic issues happening there at the workplace or even away from work. Empathy is a valuable attribute of an effective leader and you should demonstrate it by regularly checking up on your employees. Go beyond just treating them as work robots – take to heart the definition of mental health. It is emotional, cognitive, and behavioural wellbeing. Never neglect your employees’ emotional, cognitive, and behavioural wellbeing.

Holistically as an employer you must appreciate the key elements of mental health. These are in-person therapy, community, physical health, intellectual health, environmental health, boundaries, and self-care. Your duty as an employer is to positively feed into those areas for your employees. You might not be able to cater to every area but at least do your best. Promoting mental health at your enterprise is not only the employees that benefit. You also benefit because employees with robust mental health are productive.